When it was all over, Louisville players sprinted toward their cheering section, then mobbed an ESPN camera while grabbing the front of their jerseys.
Not far away, Baylor point guard Odyssey Sims pulled her jersey over her head as she sank to the floor, stunned and devastated that a season that was supposed to culminate with a second consecutive national championship had come to a sudden halt in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16.
Louisville used blistering 3-point shooting, suffocating defense against the nation's most dominant player and a pair of late free throws to hold off top-ranked Baylor 82-81 Sunday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena and pull off one of the most shocking upsets in the sport's history.
“I told our kids in the locker room before the game, ‘We've got to turn this into a street ball game,'” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “You got to drive, kick for 3s, try to make it fun. There was no pressure on us. We came out and did that.”
Louisville freely launched 3-pointer after 3-pointer, connecting on 16 of those 25 shots from beyond the arc to tie an NCAA record.
And the long balls came from everywhere. Off set plays. And off the dribble. And in transition. And from beyond NBA range.
“You keep thinking through the course of the game that they're going to start missing some,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “But they never did.”
Louisville also found a way to neutralize Brittney Griner on the offensive end by consistently keeping three players around her in a variation of a box-and-1 zone. She finished with just 10 attempted shots — making her first in the second half — and 14 points while adding 10 rebounds in her final collegiate game.
“I think I could smell what toothpaste she used,” Louisville's Antonita Slaughter said with a laugh. “I was in her face all the time with my hands up.”
Not only was Louisville keeping pace with Baylor. The Cardinals were ahead by 19 with 12:14 to play.
Still, Baylor made a late charge, outscoring the Cardinals 24-6 during a seven-minute stretch to take a one-point lead on a pair of Sims free throws with less than 10 seconds left.
But Louisville's Monique Reid was fouled by Griner on a layup attempt on the Cardinals' ensuing possession and drilled both free throws to take the lead. Sims then could not get off a final heave before the buzzer.
So Griner's college ends in Oklahoma City, with the 6-foot-8 center leaving as the NCAA's second-leading scorer but with just one national title.
Meanwhile, Louisville moves on to face No. 2 seed and traditional power Tennessee — which beat Oklahoma 74-59 earlier Sunday — for a spot in the Final Four.